CLOSET CRUSH: Charlton Alicea Tapp 

People Style

February 1, 2022



by Whitley Adkins | photographs by Amy Kolo 

One of Charton Alicea Tapp’s most valued possessions is a well-worn suitcase he keeps in the closet of his south Charlotte home, which he shares with his fashion designer husband, Bobbie. When Tapp’s parents moved from Puerto Rico to the United States in 1966, they packed everything they owned in it. His mother and father initially moved to Patterson, N.J., where Tapp’s uncle lived. 

“My uncle told my father to come and that he would get them work, and then my uncle decided to move to Charlotte,” says Tapp, 45, owner of Tapp Beauty (formerly Jeffre Scott Apothecary) in Myers Park. “My parents came to visit them here and fell in love with the Carolinas. They thought it was green like Puerto Rico.”  

The family settled in Indian Land, S.C. After graduating from high school, Tapp pursued a career in ballroom dancing and moved to California. It’s fair to say he is one of those rare few who pursues a passion early and hits the nail on the head, making a career of it. Dancing, however, is quite far from being Tapp’s only passion and talent. After all, does a creative ever really pursue only one outlet?

Comments have been edited for length and clarity.

What made you decide to move back to Charlotte? 

9/11. I was in San Francisco with no money. My dance partner and I had broken up. I was 25 and felt the draw to be closer to family. It was a good time to exit stage left from California. I moved back to Charlotte and continued professional ballroom dancing. Because of the recession in 2007-09, I decided to go to beauty school and switch careers, and everybody thought I was crazy. From that point, I fast-tracked myself to the top of the beauty game here in Charlotte. I started doing hair and makeup on the side for the dancers in competitions. I was always artistic. My husband Bobbie and I call it being an “aestheticist.”

One inspiration for Charlton Tapp’s dressing room came after viewing a documentary about Raine Spencer, Princess Diana’s stepmother. “When she married Diana’s father, she redecorated the house to suit herself. She took all the furniture and gilded it in gold. … She would use colors outside of the box. … Her pioneering way of going against the grain inspired me to do something a little more over the top, which included using my own gilded chairs.

Tell us more about you and your background.

I call myself a poor little country boy on a dirt road. We weren’t exactly poor, but we lived modestly.  

Would you call yourself that now? 

I definitely still know how to stretch a dollar. 

This closet is a maximalist’s delight! Tell me about the design inspiration. 

When we bought the house, I knew I wanted to turn one of the bedrooms into a dressing room. We had a vintage roll of Asian toile wallpaper that had been hanging around in Bobbie’s world for about 25 years, which he got for about $4.99 at a yard sale. I used that as the color template, and kind of let my imagination go. 

How do you describe your personal style?  

As an artist, there are a lot of people living inside of me. Sometimes I want to be flashy, and sometimes I want to be preppy and sometimes I want to be rock ’n roll. I love Lenny Kravitz. He has this kind of edge, and he’s not afraid to wear what he wants to wear, but it is one continuous edge. He doesn’t diversify from the rocker. I don’t want to wear sparkly tennis shoes every day, but yes, most of the days.  

Yes! There’s a whole lotta bling in that corner. What’s up with that?  

Well, I have a lot of passions — going from full-time dancing to full-time beauty guru, I needed an outlet for self expression. I was introduced to pageantry in 2017, so I figured I’d better do it now before I get too old. In 2017, in my second pageant, I won National Entertainer of the Year. 

Tell me more about the design from a functionality and storage aspect.  

I needed more hanging space. That was the key. Even in the shoe closet, I can deconstruct it to create more hanging space. Then, there are large pull-out drawers for capes for my performances.

Your wardrobe is quite colorful and fun! I am assuming this is not your day-to-day wardrobe.  

No, my dressing room is the place for all of my party clothes and dressy clothes, ballroom and nightclub clothes.

Where do you shop?  

Nordstrom is my go-to place, and the Nordstrom in Chicago is my favorite. It’s got a lot of high-end stuff without being over the top. I’m a big fan of Zara.

Do you have any style icons or inspirations who have influenced your personal style?  

I like Prince, for sure, and Freddie Mercury.  

It seems like you’ve evolved a lot in your career and life.  

Yes, and every phase is a part of who I am. You gotta constantly be striving, and that’s with the physical, spiritual and mental.  SP


THIS OR THAT

Animal print or floral? The old me would say animal print, the new me is definitely floral.

East Coast or West Coast? East Coast. In my 20s I was West Coast, but as I matured, I’m an East Coaster all the way. 

Sneakers or dress slippers? Sneakers

Fur or sequins? Fur

Color, pattern or texture? Pattern

Sunglasses or crown? Crown!

VIntage or modern? Vintage

Favorite decade in fashion? Definitely the ’70s and specifically, disco.

Intel of Your Wildest Dreams!

 

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